The Homes

Home 1

This is the perfect respite: a get-a-way from urban life and only 70 miles from Chicago.  Surrounded by large trees, the home’s design vocabulary is a delicate balance between industrial Americana and nature-by-the-beach. 

Built in 2015, the owners worked closely with an architect to create their dream country home. Their original mission was togetherness.  With thoughtful planning, the home’s four bedrooms have the potential to sleep eighteen people comfortably because of the inclusion of loft enclaves. The large kitchen, two-story dining, and great room draws family and guests together. The great room flows seamlessly from both the front and backyard terraces, inviting friends and family to gather inside and out.  Their landscape architect designed a space for living and lingering.

A magnificent Sassafras tree is a focal point--the perfect spot to sit, especially on evenings when the tree is lit and the fire-pit warms the night.  The backyard storage shed doubles as a private, dual outdoor shower.  The garden bears fruits and vegetables for the farmstead--where the homeowners’ children sell their harvest, along with fresh eggs from the pet chickens, Happy, Sassy and Red. 

The owners have surrounded themselves with a collection of art acquired through life and travels.  Don’t miss Matt Swenson's concert-ticket table on the screen porch, made from the owners’ lifetime collection.

Home 2

This home is a quiet, cozy sanctuary on a grand scale.  This stunning log cabin in the woods is situated in the middle of 200 beautiful, serene acres, including woodlands, meadows and a river.  The owner fell in love with the property when it was just a corn field surrounded by trees.  Initial plans were made for a contemporary home, but the land seemed to call for something else, something special.  Thus, the vision for this spectacular log cabin came to life.

This little cabin in the woods is not so little.  There are five bedrooms, six bathrooms and seven fireplaces.  Ceilings are tall, windows are many, and the space and light add a soft warm touch to the prevalent wood and stone features of the cabin. 

Guests walk through an oversized entrance with a large door supported by handmade wrought-iron hinges. They are welcomed into a large foyer with a massive stone fireplace rising nearly thirty feet to the ceiling.  The giant hearth offers a place to pause, to sit and soak up the warmth of the home.  The massive logs, some over 30 inches in diameter, are Red Pine from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Cabinets, countertop and trim were all made from trees cleared off the property, milled and crafted on-site in what is now the four-car garage.  Likewise all the doors and oak flooring were milled and prepared onsite. Canadian granite is used throughout the house on floors, the foundation and in the fireplaces.  Stones for the hearth were hand chosen for their rich shades of gray-blue and flecks of pink mica. 

The garden includes a giant circle of Norway Spruces with a cutting garden inside.  There are two ponds (one stocked for fishing), a fire pit, a pool and a hot tub to make the outside as inviting as the warmth of the home itself. 

This is a private sanctuary close to Chicago, yet a world away.  Once you drive through the gates, you leave all your cares behind.

Home 3

This home could be miles from nowhere, yet it’s only an hour from Chicago and a mere 1,000 steps from the beach of Lake Michigan.  Surrounded by trees, this cottage is unveiled as you drive up the long, winding driveway. A glimpse of the blue-gray roof, a hint of glass, and finally, the home with many windows materializes.  It exudes a confident strength, warmth, and solitude in the middle of the woods.   

The owners looked for a place where they could be at one with the environment.  They found this woodsy lot, so well positioned near the Lake.  This 4 bedroom, 4 ½ bath home is also energy efficient.  Built in a “passive inspired” manner, the house has thick walls and a clean, unbroken roof line. Triple-paned windows serve as walls in the main part of the house, bringing the outside in with nature as art.  The entire home stays warm despite being off the natural gas grid, and having so many windows and concrete floors. 

The welcoming warmth inside also comes from the lighting and the soft, comfortable, and calming colors.  The couch’s blue fabric was the inspiration for the natural colors and easy styles.  The owners gravitated to a transitional style--not too traditional, not too contemporary.  They chose ethereal light fixtures to soften the high wood ceilings in the main room.  A vein of rich russet color runs through the home with the wood at the entry, on the ceilings, and framing the windows.  A thick alpaca rug, the color of doves and oatmeal, tempers the concrete floor, and harmonizes with the stained floor’s chocolates, russets, grays, and deep blues.  In the kitchen and main room, note the deep colors in the Brazilian-quartzite stone island and the stone of the candle-flame fireplace.

Bedrooms with sitting spaces bookend the house and include large porthole windows to look across the main room.  The screened-in porch and master suite make the house a Pompeii-inspired u-shape.  There is a yoga room, which doubles as a guest bedroom with its handy Murphy bed, and always, the quiet view of the surrounding woods.

Outside, the wood trellis and the fireplace bring a little of the inside out.  The lawn is accented with natural prairie grasses, hydrangeas, and other low-maintenance and location-appropriate plantings, softening the edges of the house. 

The owners welcome their time at this isolated escape from the city.  Mornings are spent in the great room, enjoying the nature preserve view and the deer walking around the house.  On summer afternoons, you’re most likely to find the family on the screened porch or in the pool.  And in the winter, when the trees are leafless and the wind is howling, they may be watching the sun set over Lake Michigan—all toasty warm in their glass cabin in the woods.

Home 4

This is the consummate summer cottage:  true to the very nature of Michiana.  This cozy home is close enough to hear the crashing waves of Lake Michigan and yet seems so far removed from the world’s chaos. 

A neat row of European Hornbeam trees layered by a Boxwood hedge and a loose-stone stacked wall, buffer the peaceful space.  Hear the trickle of the fountain--a solid granite ball surrounded by a star-shape of river rocks and succulents. 

Make your way to the ashen-shingled cottage’s solid oak plank door and step inside the open, bright space.  The original wood paneling has been distressed, painted, stripped, stained, bleached, and all the knots and grooves have been dyed darker.   Windows have been added to make the house more like a garden pavilion.  The warm-hued wood panels also span the ceiling, creating the light, airy feeling.  A bent willow chandelier adorns the room—the first thing the owner bought for the house seventeen years ago. 

Next, spend some time in the sunroom imported from England.  This elix-colored conservatory features arched windows with retractable screens and copper details, the perfect spot for taking in the refreshing harbor-country air, and for hearing the calming tap-tap of rain on the standing-seam copper roof. 

There are so many unique features to look for in this home.  The floors are all new--wide-planked oak that has been fumed the color of dark linen.  The stairs to the loft have their original Craftsman cut-outs in the railings. The loft houses the home theater and a bathroom with a soaking tub and low windows.  The galley kitchen features butcher block countertops and a farmhouse sink for that cottage feel, and built-in refrigeration for maximum use of space.  The cobble-stone fireplace is original, though it has been converted to gas which now flames over cannonballs.  Note the antique wheel cover from an old French car above the fireplace, and the cocktail table made from an old mining cart’s wheels and a piece of track.  Look for the hidden closet with a live-edge walnut ledge used for folding laundry and see if you can guess which piece of art is named “If I Had a Hammer”.

The garage, just off the front garden, is an extension of the house with its antique tool bench and wonderful garden workspace.   There is a wisteria-laden arbor.  A staircase of sliced tree trunks leads to a meditation garden.  The property is nestled into a hill covered in oaks and beech trees and overlooking a beautiful ravine. The owner has been taming the forest, adding tons of stone retaining walls to hold back the hill, and planting in every nook and cranny.  No matter if it’s raining, snowing or just a gray day, nature beckons from all around.  The garden is lit at night, birds sing into the twilight, and the chimes make their deep sonorous sounds from near the front door.  There are surprises everywhere.  Take in every little inch. 

Home 5

When people enter this historical 150-year-old farmhouse, they are surprised at how different it looks on the inside.  Outside, you could be in another century, surrounded by the 100-year-old oak trees and the antique barns.  But step inside, and everything is renovated and new. 

The owners bought the property for its peaceful setting:  12 acres, a pond, extensive gardens that bloom spring-to-fall, and no close neighbors.  Pull through the front gates, and you enter a place in time that is serene and quiet. 

While the property may be a highlight, wait until you step inside the house and admire the beautifully renovated features.  A covered screened-in porch is on the front of the house, along with the original front door. The main part of the home has exposed beams and arched windows with the original old, wavy glass. 

The 4 bedroom home has 3 new bathrooms, one with its original claw-foot tub.  The master wing has 20-foot ceilings with large beams and a fireplace.  The kitchen was a gut-rehab and now includes custom cabinets and modern appliances.  Be sure to see the 13-foot-long bar table from 1800’s England and the three horse paintings from a Chicago artist who only painted abstracts except for these three pieces. 

Don’t forget to look down and appreciate the old farmhouse’s new antique floors—which are a mixture of heart of pine and antique oak, milled from barn beams.  Old barn wood, with its rich color and patina stars throughout the home.  You’ll see parts of an Ohio barn in the kitchen ceiling and, in the upstairs office, reclaimed hemlock (an unusual choice of wood for a barn) serves as a storage door. 

The owners spend most of their time in the den off of the kitchen.  There, a wood-burning, cast-iron stove warms the cozy room and welcomes guests through the side door.  It’s a favorite place to sit and gaze out at the land and the barns.  We think you’ll agree.  

Home 6

Sometimes things just fall into place.  After seeing about 80 properties, the owners walked into this house when it was still an unfinished shell and knew immediately:  “This was it!”  This was the place they, and their dogs, had been dreaming of. 

The owners had been looking for something special, and they found it--in spades--in this Tigerman house.  Distinctive composite concrete tiles and corrugated metal materials are the perfect complement to the symmetry of the home’s two squares and two circles footprint.  

Throughout the 4 bedroom, 4 ½ bath home you’ll see the rhythm of rusty red, a color accent cued from the architecture and the reclaimed barn wood in the silo ceiling.  Notice the harmony in the easy flow of the rooms.  The owners entertain often, and it is not unusual to have 10-12 people over for the weekend.  Guests gravitate to the big room and the kitchen—playing games or spilling a puzzle out to work over the weekend.   Friends linger in the kitchen, where something’s always in the oven or on the stove. There are no tall, vertical cabinets to block the view in the kitchen.  In place of a traditional refrigerator, six refrigeration drawers hold the fresh bounty from the farmers’ market.  There is ample space where everyone can be together, yet still have a moment in the home’s quiet spaces.   There is an atmosphere of comfort—put your drink down anywhere, put your feet up anywhere.  Use every inch of the house.

Set on 2.5 acres overlooking a bluff, and surrounded by untouchable green space, the home has a lot of nature to appreciate.  There is a screened in porch, tiers of decks, and a secret garden nestled between the home’s geometric shapes. 

There is a playfulness and ease here.  Roosters adorn the home—an homage to the owner’s habit of hiding a rooster in homes he designed.  In the guest bathroom upstairs, there’s a window above the sink.  This clever statement gets a smile out of everyone when they look up to see the beauty of the trees instead of their own familiar face staring back.  The place is stocked with lawn games like croquet sets and water guns, and darts and a pool table in the downstairs “Rain Room” (when it’s too rainy to be outside). 

Nostalgia reigns here too.  Each guest room has a bedside journal for slowing down, writing, and remembering.  Look for the scratches on the antique piano desk from the owner’s grandma.  He got into a good bit of trouble as a child for making the scratches.  When he inherited the piece, he chose not to refinish it, but to honor the memory and story from his childhood.